German media is reporting that a Turkish-European NGO monitored as an extremist organization in Germany is coordinating with Turkish government officials to help President Erdoğan in next year’s upcoming elections. According to the Welt report:
March 27, 2022: Hundreds of people are sitting at white round tables in a hall in Ankara on an afternoon at the end of February. Food is being served, the guests are chatting animatedly. Then the scene, which can be seen on videos on the Internet, becomes quiet. For a special speaker takes the stage: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The evening is important for him: Here, at the conference of the lobby association Union of International Democrats (UID), Erdogan supporters from many countries meet — the vast majority of them from Germany. In 2023, the Turks will elect their parliament and president — and Erdogan is counting on support from Germany: The large community of 1.4 million Turks eligible to vote in Germany is supposed to provide him with votes. The activities Erdogan and his party, the AKP, are undertaking to win the favor of the foreign community are being monitored by the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution. This is because the line between legitimate political engagement and state influence from abroad is blurred. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz) has now stated in response to a query that it has been registering meetings of AKP officials with representatives of party-related associations in Germany since 2021. There is a “considerable mobilization potential.” [Translated by DeepL with edits]
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The article further notes that the Union of International Democrats is in contact with Metin Külünk, who coordinates Erdoğan’s re-election campaign in Europe. According to the article, in 2016, Külünk entered the apartment of a leader of the now-banned violent Turkish pro-Erdoğan rocker group, Osmanen Germania. According to wiretapped telephone calls, Külünk was carrying envelopes in which cash was found. Investigators believed this cash was being used to buy firearms.
The Welt article also identifies Derin AnaIiz, a Twitter feed run by Hüseyin Ersöz in south Germany who spreads conspiracy theories such as that the Turkish opposition is being controlled by the US, Germany, and the UK. The Welt also says it has chat records showing Ersöz received instructions from Hasan Doğan, Chief of Cabinet of the Turkish Presidency, and a screenshot from Ersöz’s phone calling Erdoğan adviser Mücahit Arslan “big brother Mücahit (literally Mujahideen, but also used as a Turkish name). According to an anonymous AKP insider in Germany, the Twitter feed is attempting to incite Turks against Germany.
The Union of International Democrats (UID; formerly known as the Union of European Turkish Democrats) describes itself as a voluntary NGO founded in 2004 and operating in several European countries. Its piurposes include increasing Turks’ economic, political, and social activities and “sister communities” abroad without alienating their identities and values. Its purposes also include combatting Islamophobia. German media has described the UID as a lobbying group for President Erdoğan and his AKP that emphasizes Turkish values and customs. The German Office for the Protection of the Constitution monitors the UID, describing it as “nationalist” and incompatible with Germany’s free democratic order.
The Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reported yesterday that the head of the UID announced the group is setting up a US branch.